RC4VETS: Final Report for Tecnikea Challenge

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· The challenge
· The students selected
· The meetings
· The monitoring of the activities
· The activities in detail
· The recognition of the challenge by the VET centres involved

Last 31st of May 2021 ended the challenge “Conecta Software: Improving Tecnikea”. Being the first to be completed in the framework of the Erasmus+ KA202 project “Real Challenges for VET students’ ‘ (RC4VETs), it has been an important occasion to learn how to improve the challenges management. Besides minor initial difficulties, the challenge has been successfully carried out.

RC4VETS logo

The challenge

The challenge started the 15th of February, and the main aim was the optimization of the platform “Tecnikea informatica”. This latter is an online shop for electronics and computers products implemented by the Spanish company Conecta Software, based in San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife — Spain).

Company in charge to design and mentor the challenge

Conecta Software is a leading company in the field of e-commerce Business to Business (B2B). Activities has been mainly focus to create posts about brands offered on Tecnikea platform. More in depth, participants have worked to:

  • Search information about brands offered on Tecnikea platform with the SemRush and RankActive and to create an online spreadsheet with these two parameters of every brand: volume of searching and volume of competitors
  • Analyze the uploaded content regarding important brands in tecnikea.com to have a green points on YOAST (Wordpress plugin) about SEO.
  • Create new content on Tecnikea to include it on https://tecnikea.com/blog/marcas/
  • Develop a module for Prestashop to display in the back office a table with the values from a database using the common MVC programming

The students selected

The fields of studies necessary to perform the task were ICT and Commerce, and for this reason only three partner centres were suited to participate in the challenge: the CIFP César Manrique, that coordinated it, as well as the Slovenian Poklicni center Obala and the Greek DIEK of Glyfada. Each partner has selected the students taking part in the challenge according to their profile, knowledge, background, willingness to participate and field of studies. In particular, their transcripts of academic records and their fluency in English language have been taken into consideration. Other criteria evaluated in the selection process were the necessity to ensure as much as possible the gender balance and to ease the participation also of students with special needs or low socio-economic backgrounds. A total of twelve students were involved (ten male and two female students) and four teachers from CIFP César Manrique, Poklicni center Obala and DIEK of Glyfada. The students from CIFP César Manrique were attending their second academic year, four studying Microcomputer Systems and Networks, and the other two Commerce Activities, both EQF3 level courses. The four Slovenian students were attending their first academic year of their VET — NPK Programer course, of which the programming students are at EQF level 4. On the other hand, the two students from DIEK of Glyfada, whose studies belong to EQF level 5, were both studying Commerce; one is attending the first academic year, the other the second.

Vocational training centers involved into Tecnikea challenge

The meetings

A first meeting between the parties took place the 10th of February 2021: it was in this occasion that the company Conecta Software introduced for the first time a general idea of the tasks of the challenge and the tools to use. After the kickoff meeting, on the 26th of February Cristina Szell and Santiago Ortega, respectively Conecta Software COO and Web Developer, explained the activities of the challenge in detail. Other technical issues were discussed in the meeting between Contecta Software and CIFP César Manrique students on the 23rd of March.

The monitoring of the activities

In order to monitor the activities, the company Conecta Software initially proposed to use the platform Odoo, but after having encountered some security and technical issues with this application, Discord and Trello were preferred as means of communication among the students and with the firm. In particular, this latter has been a useful tool for the management of the challenge: each specific task corresponded to a specific card present on the Trello board where the students could not only find the explanation of what needed to be done, but also upload their progress.

Moreover, Trello facilitated the contact between the firm and the students: since Conecta employees received notifications from the application, each doubt or question written by the students on a specific card has been addressed rapidly. Another merit of the use of Trello was the fact that the users could assign themselves to the cards and consequently to the tasks to be performed. This resulted in an effective time management.

The activities in detail

The activities carried out by the four students of Microcomputer Systems and Networks of CIFP César Manrique have been different. Among those, it is worth it to remember the installation and configuration of the Smush and WebP Converter for Media plugins, the installation and configuring the Updraft and Autoptimize plugins. Moreover, the students created a document filled in with information about the improvements each plugin made when installed and configured by viewing these changes in GTmetrix and LightHouse. The students also did research on what could be done on the UsabilityHub site and subsequently tested its actual work. On the basis of this information, the students prepared some suggestions for the improvement of the tool. Finally, several posts were made to help the marketing side and have them draft about the brands on the website (Tp-Link, Intel, Gigabyte). At the end of the challenge, the students expressed satisfaction with their work and with this experience in general. They affirmed that they learned how to improve teamwork and what it is to be behind the work of a company improving its website, through plugins for the optimization of this.

The students from the Greek centre DIEK Glyfada, studying E-Commerce, with one Commerce student from CIFP César Manrique worked together as a team and had different tasks. First, they collected and categorized data, such as searches per month, clicks per month, competition, from the brands given. Moreover, the Commerce students collected and categorized data using the SemRush and Rankactive platforms (search volume and competition) for the brands given on task 1 “Brand Study”. For the following task, “Content Development”, the students developed content for some designated brands (Asus, Logitech, Tacens, Trust, Wacom, Oki, Lexmark, LevelOne, D-Link, Conceptronic). Also, the Commerce Team was satisfied with their participation in the challenge, especially because they found that an effective two-way communication was established through the Trello platform with the firm Conecta Software.

Finally, the Slovenian group of students from Poklicni center Obala worked on the development of some modules, using Prestashop, an open-source CMS used to create e-commerce sites. The company wanted to display in the back office a table with the values from their DB.

The recognition of the challenge by the VET centres involved

Each centre has decided to recognise their students’ work in a different way. The CIFP César Manrique agreed to validate a whole subject to the students participating in this challenge. On the other hand, the DIEK Glyfada decided to exempt the participants in the challenge from exams in relative subjects, both the midterm as well as the final ones. The instructors will suggest the subjects and the marks, and the school Direction will decide accordingly. The Slovenian centre Poklicni center Obala will recognise the students’ participation with an internal certificate.

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Eduardo del Reguero

Profesor en Ciclos Formativos FP. Ingeniería Informática - Universidad de La Laguna. Learning English